In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person).
In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized.
These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.
In some studies, the focus was on the sexualization of female characters across all ages, but most focused specifically on young adult women.
This report examines and summarizes psychological theory, research and clinical experience addressing the sexualization of girls.
The report (a) defines sexualization; (b) examines the prevalence and provides examples of sexualization in society and in cultural institutions, as well as interpersonally and intrapsychically; (c) evaluates the evidence suggesting that sexualization has negative consequences for girls and for the rest of society; and (d) describes positive alternatives that may help counteract the the influence of sexualization.
Research shows that teachers sometimes encourage girls to play at being sexualized adult women (Martin, 1988) or hold beliefs that girls of color are “hypersexual” and thus unlikely to achieve academic success (Rolón-Dow, 2004).Parents may contribute to sexualization in a number of ways.For example, parents may convey the message that maintaining an attractive physical appearance is the most important goal for girls.Although extensive analyses documenting the sexualization of girls, in particular, have yet to be conducted, individual examples can easily be found.
These include advertisements (e.g., the Skechers “naughty and nice” ad that featured Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl in pigtails, with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop), dolls (e.g., Bratz dolls dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas), clothing (thongs sized for 7– to 10-year-olds, some printed with slogans such as “wink wink”), and television programs (e.g., a televised fashion show in which adult models in lingerie were presented as young girls).APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children.